The national media, at times, forgets what it means to watch the Detroit Lions. Simply because the team signed Reggie Bush, made other upgrades and should improve upon a dreadful 4-12 record, ESPN's thinking is that Detroit should be fun to watch either way.
Everyone who's ever lived in Detroit around the beginning of every fall knows that's not the case. Since the beginning of their lives, they've become invested and seen differently. Billy Sims was supposed to make the Lions exciting again, as was Andre Ware and Joey Harrington. Matt Millen was supposed to save the franchise. Along the way, there was nothing but frustration watching that, win or lose (mostly lose).
Around these parts, fans have become too warped to get meaningfully excited anymore prior to the start of an NFL season. Yes, 2013's offseason has brought tangible upgrades and the hope that there is a semblance of a plan from the front office, but that doesn't mean the results will consistently translate onto the field. Within Detroit football, when have they ever?
Heck, 2012 was supposed to be Detroit's year too. All the stars were aligning, right? The Bobby Layne curse was reversed, and the team had made the playoffs for the first time in a decade during 2011. Then, the offseason happened and the regular season began. Expectations bred entitlement, and the rest was typical Lions' history. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who had fun watching Detroit play last year, from fans to writers to cameramen.
The problem is, the more people start to expect of the Lions, the harder they end up falling. The bigger their moves or more confident their team is, the loftier their expectations become. As Seth Wickersham accurately points out in his article, Matthew Stafford doesn't know if he'll have a running game, nor a competent line to block for him. Will Ziggy Ansah become a force on the defensive line? Can Louis Delmas stay healthy? Might Detroit's cornerbacks finally become an asset instead of a liability? On top of that, there's the lingering issue of Jim Schwartz's job security, which hardly seems guaranteed beyond next year if the usual happens.
Those are more question marks in three sentences than most contending teams have in four paragraphs. Point being? The sky should be the limit for the Lions in 2013, but at least for the meantime, everyone should keep quiet about it. Excitement for the Lions shouldn't be about gunning for the top offense in the league, it should be about watching a Detroit player get shoved and refuse to push back, or seeing Schwartz finally understand the challenge rules.
That's where Detroit football needs to be at prior to this season's opening kickoff, which hardly makes for exciting viewing or reading for the masses. So, the window dressing of Stafford's big arm, expectations for a 10 win season and Calvin Johnson's superhuman talent naturally occupy all of the national headlines. Then, when things go wrong everywhere else, all those pundits begin to wonder what happened.
Stafford and Johnson aren't enough to ensure Sunday's will be fun in Detroit. Glover Quin and Israel Idonije's impact on the defense might be, however. The bottom line? Until Sunday's begin to look fun in Michigan for the right reasons, they'll likely remain just as maddening as they've ever been before, regardless of the latest fancy window dressing.
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